By Dr. Thomas Abraham
The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center honored five Indian American Malayalees for their outstanding achievements in their field of specialization or for their service to the society at its 26thAnnual Awards Banquet held on November 3, at The Kerala Center Banquet Hall in Elmont, New York.
The chief guest at the Awards Banquet was India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Shatrugna Sinha, who attend the program with his family and was introduced by Kerala Center’s Board Chairman Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran.
“The Keralites though their hard work made substantial contribution to India in education, health care and in foreign remittances,” Deputy CG Sinha said.
Devadasan Nair, the Consul for Community Affairs at the Indian Consulate, was also an honored guest at the event and complimented the contribution of the Kerala Center to the Indian community and that he had been working with all community groups to welfare of the Indian community in the New York area.
Another honored guest, New York Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, also complimented the Indian community for their service in the local community, especially in the Hempstead Town area.
Keynote speaker Dr. S.N. Sridhar, a Professor of Linguistics and India Studies, and the Director of the Center for India Studies at Stony Brook University, was introduced by Kerala Center Founding Grand Patron Sreedhar Menon who said that he had supported the Kerala Center all these years to provide a broader platform for the Kerala community.
In his keynote address, Prof. Sridhar noted the importance of language in communication to advance oneself in the American society especially when one is an immigrant with an accent.
Dignitaries and speakers at the 26th Kerala Center Awards Banquet, From l. to r.: Indian’s Deputy Consul General Shatrugna Sinha, Prof. S.N. Sridhar, Dr. Abraham George, Consul Devadasan Nair, Sreedhar Menon and New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages.
Another speaker, Dr. Abraham Geroge, the Founder of Shanti Bhavan, a residential school for underprivileged children in Tamil Nadu, spoke about its success.
“The children from Shanti Bhavan have graduate in flying colors and become highly successful in their profession after graduating from colleges and work of well-known multinational companies,” he said, adding that it was only with the support of Sreedhar Menon and Kerala Center Awardee Bobby Abraham that he was able to put together a large endowment for Shanti Bhavan.
Awards were given to Bobby V. Abraham, the former Chairman of the BOD and the CEO of Paragon Trade Brands in Seattle, Washington; Jayasankar Nair, the former CEO and current Senior Advisor to Sabinsa Corporation in East Brunswick, New Jersey; Malini Nair, the Owner and Director of Sowparnika Dance Academy in New Jersey; writer Chacko M. Chacko and volunteer Joy Ittan.
“The Kerala Center had honored over 150 outstanding Keralites in the last 25 years who went on to become successful achievers and contributors to the society.” “We continue to add more achievers in that list to so to make our community aware of their contribution,” Dr. Thomas Abraham, the Chairman of the Award Committee, said.
The program started with American and Indian national Anthems followed by an invocation dance by language class students of Kerala Center and a formal welcome by Kerala Center President Thambi Thalappillil.
Entertainment was provided by Kerala Center youth and Sowparnika Dance Academy in New Jersey. Daisy Stephen served as MC.